Letters to the editor – September 24, 2021

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Kindness and good wishes

Sir,

Dr Jeremy Phillips and Dr Rebecca Helliwell wish to thank the community and patients of Mid Argyll Medical Practice for their kindness and good wishes marking their leaving the practice earlier this month.

It has been a real privilege and honour to have been so closely and intimately involved with the lives of so many people and families over the last 32 and 17 years respectively.

We will always be grateful for this and the opportunity to work with a excellent loyal and dedicated group of staff in the practice, hospital and in the wider NHS team.

We will both continue to live locally and continue to work in the NHS in Argyll.

Dr Jeremy Phillips and Dr Rebecca Helliwell

Fishing and aquaculture understanding

Sir,

Looking into the future of marine planning, West Coast Regional Inshore Fisheries Group (WCRIFG) has formed an aquaculture sub-group to foster better communications and understanding between commercial fishing and aquaculture.

Both are integral to coastal communities which are economically dependent on them.

After the initial meeting it was agreed that there were synergies to be had working with other areas around Scotland, and the group was expanded to become simply the RIFG Aquaculture Working Group.

The driving force comes from the proposed huge future expansion of aquaculture, the fact that fishers were not considered, historically, as mandatory consultees and also the promise of a review by Scottish Government of the aquaculture licencing process.

It was felt that now was a good time for inshore fishers, through the RIFG, to consider, collate and communicate their views to any, and all, of the regulatory bodies involved in the said licencing process.

The working group is particularly concerned with the aquaculture planning process – especially when it comes to the impact of proposed sites on traditional fishing grounds – poor site maintenance and monitoring which can lead to instances of vessel entanglement and also the environmental impact of the sites on both commercial and non-commercial species.

The group believes that while the sector has made many advances over the past decade, increased transparency and oversight are needed to ensure the aquaculture sector can better co-exist with the fishing industry.

The initial aim of the group would be to ensure that there is a proper analysis of localised fishing and follow up with clear and sensible communication between the two sectors to ensure that with expansion does not come conflict.

It is a timeous idea, which will hopefully reassure fishermen that they will not simply be displaced by fish farming but will be respected for their own produce.

The group will cement a policy to assist the fishing industry deal realistically with the fish farming industry and the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation.

Simon Macdonald, chair RIFG Aquaculture Work Group

Backing British farming?

Sir,

NFU Scotland is calling on the UK Government to address the nation’s growing labour crisis, which is undermining all parts of the food and drink supply chain, leading to significant losses on some Scottish farms and resulting in a growing number of empty shop shelves.

Last week’s #BackBritishFarmingDay on September 15 came as a UK Government announcement of a free trade ‘agreement in principle’ between the UK and New Zealand is believed to be imminent.

Having agreed in June to provide unfettered access in the future to Australia, the cumulative impact of another deal with a major exporting nation has huge significance for Scottish farmers and crofters.

With so much to celebrate about the quality and standards of our food and drink, #BackBritishFarmingDay was a fantastic opportunity to thank the nation for their incredible support throughout Brexit and Covid-19.

NFU Scotland, both independently and in conjunction with the Scottish food and drink industry, has written several times to UK Government calling for measures that address the shortfall in both seasonal and permanent staff.

Should it fail to do so, I have absolutely no doubt that the situation will deteriorate further.

It is galling to hear that the UK Government is on the verge of signing up to another free trade deal that will permit a growing level of imports while delivering very little to our food and drink sector in return.

The blunt fact is that neither deal has been afforded any kind of proper parliamentary scrutiny as the government’s promised Statutory Trade and Agriculture Commission has yet to be established.

Safeguards against market disruption are also promised, but the cumulative impact of these deals will be profound for UK farming.

If handled badly, these may make it impossible for some of our family farming businesses to continue to compete with high levels of low-cost imports produced to standards that would not be allowed here.

Martin Kennedy, president, NFU Scotland

Key diabetes checks

Sir,

National audits of diabetic services have shown that only around 50 per cent of people with type one or two diabetes have nine key annual checks to help prevent long-term diabetic complications.

The pandemic has made this situation difficult because many routine checks and face-to-face appointments have not been available.

The InDependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT) has published a free new booklet which explains the nine key tests.

It helps people look after their health by ensuring that they know what checks they need from health professionals.

Get your copy of Diabetes care – your 9 key checks by contacting IDDT on 01604 622837, emailing enquiries@iddtinternational.org or writing to IDDT, PO Box 294, Northampton NN1 4XS.

Jenny Hirst, InDependent Diabetes Trust